Jason King has probably written a heck of a book. The lead-up to "Beyond the Phog" has already given us a couple of spicy anecdotes about the past decade of Kansas basketball.
Humble, Midwestern KU hoops with so much drama? Seems so. I'll be hosting King on a podcast next week, so be on the lookout for that, as I hope to get a few stories out of him that didn't make the cut for the book.
Today, another snippet from the book was released, and it details J.R. Giddens' relationship with Bill Self. If you don't remember Giddens, he played with the team six years ago, then transferred to New Mexico. He was the classic case of a highly recruited kid who seemingly didn't pan out and couldn't handle his role at a premium, big-time program.
But there is more to the story. (And Giddens did eventually find a better fit with New Mexico.) Giddens wasn't a perfect player. Far from it. But from his perspective, he wasn't treated well by Self, or really anyone affiliated with Kansas basketball, outside of the players.
Here's a hearty and juicy excerpt:
Any thoughts I had about leaving (school early) for the NBA ended when I got stabbed. ... If anything, I was trying to figure out if I was ever going to play basketball again. I think that’s why they made me leave Kansas. The doctor said I would walk with a limp for the rest of my life.Let's be clear: This is Giddens' recalling of the events from six years ago. There could be some truth, and some half-truths as well. Regardless, that's a bad light to put Kansas hoops in. And it's an interesting one as well, because the program's been so dominant in the past decade, seeing the less-attractive aspects of the Big 12 dynasty is an intriguing dichotomy. Few programs ever truly get along well all the time. There's discourse everywhere. Kansas is about to have its troubled aired publicly, though.
I’m not saying Kansas threw me out like a battery. But ... they weren’t going to let me stay around campus and be Moulaye Niang.
Micah Downs was coming in. Bill Self used to always tell me, “Micah is coming in and he's better than you.” He would just say little stuff like that and I was like, “Dang, man, you’re not even for me, are you?” I wanted to stay at Kansas but I felt like they just pushed me out the door, especially after getting stabbed. I was like, “I'm sitting here worrying if I'm ever play basketball again and you guys are over here talking to me in an inappropriate manner? I'm 19 years old. You guys are supposed to my college coaches. Instead, at the first sign of trouble, you guys are turning your back on me?” I felt like it was everyone from the coaching staff to the people up there in the offices. As a 19-year-old who was immature and didn’t understand life, I took that really hard. I left the office in tears when I knew I was leaving.
I remember that day really well. I walked out of there on crutches, crying. I’d been interrogated for about seven hours for three days straight. ... Bill Self was telling my teammates not to have any contact with me. Darnell Jackson and Jeremy Case were two of my best friends, and they weren’t even allowed to talk to me. Aaron Miles was done playing so he came over. He was the only person who came and saw me. I was like, “Dang, I’m 30 feet from where I used to stay and you guys can’t even come over here and see me?” I’m stabbed and laid up and don’t even know if I’m going to play basketball again. That was very kind of Kansas basketball and Bill Self, to tell people to stay away from me like I was a team cancer.
As for Giddens post-college, he did make it to the NBA, most recently playing with the Celtics and Knicks.